Coming out of my funk

It’s funny how little things can make a big difference to how you feel. Recently, I have been in what can only be described as a funk. I’ve not been happy with my work on a couple of recent jobs (but then again, who is), and for the first time this year I have nothing lined up, which was actually quite fun for about, oh, twenty minutes, before the inevitable doubt demons started whispering in my always-too-ready-to-listen ears.  Worse, when combined with upheavals in my personal life (as mentioned in my previous post), I lost my nerve for a while. Started to doubt myself. Didn’t actually want any more acting work to come along, because I felt so low on confidence and unsure of myself.  Didn’t know where I was going. You get the picture.

So, I did two things. I ordered myself some business cards, and for the first time, I went to a networking event.  It’s actually the business cards that have had more of an effect on my mood – everyone at the event seemed really nice, and I will go again,  but there were a lot of people crammed into what must be the world’s smallest bar, and because of the noise I couldn’t make anything like meaningful conversation with anyone beyond a couple of chats while outside having a smoke (Damn actors are loud!).  But the simple act of ordering my first set of business cards made me feel more like an actor again. It’s reminded me that doing little things to further your career – no matter how small – when you are feeling a bit low can have a uplifting effect and feel like progress; all of a sudden, I have come up for air again.

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A Quiet Word with Myself

time-travel

This is a weird one. I realised it was high-time that I made another entry, and when I logged onto the site I came across the following post which I had written a while back, but saved as an unpublished draft. It’s fairly interesting (I hope) and I like the weird time-travel-esque notion of posting something that I wrote in the past about things that have now happened. So, some of this has already been written. Some of it is yet to pass. And now I sound like frickin’ Galadriel. Shut up.

This post isn’t for you.

That might seem like a strange way to start a blog post; after all, blogs are meant to be read. That’s the point of them, isn’t it? The reason that I say that this post isn’t for you is that I feel the need to talk to myself, because I need a good talking to. Someone needs to have a glass half-empty/full chat with me, and the best person I figure to do this is probably me, as if I ask anyone else to do it, they will probably scratch their heads and wonder what I am worried about.

When I think about it, there is no getting away from the fact that this year has been pretty darn good (don’t panic, I am not going to recount it all again). Trouble is,  I’m secretly deeply insecure about this acting lark, and have recently become concerned that it’s just not happening.

Now, I know that I have been fortunate, and am probably being impatient. Someone once said to me that I would never be happy unless I was acting, and in a way I think that they are right – if I don’t have acting projects on the go, I feel listless and unfulfilled, but I wouldn’t say unhappy. What’s worrying me at the moment is that now, just having acting projects on the go is not enough. I have a busy July coming up – I am shooting a teaser trailer for Dan, the director of Serial Kaller, for a funding pitch for a new movie, and I am very excited that I landed the lead role in Bloom, a festival-bound short film that, while unpaid, is absolutely amazing showreel material and very different to what I have done before. On top of all that, I am being paid (paid!) to go on a cruise for five days this weekend by the puppetry company I am very lucky to work for and have more work coming up with them later in the month. But I really feel that I am stuck on a certain level, and if I don’t level up soon, I never will.

Ok, we’re back in the now…..now. 

So I wrote this about two months ago, and what is interesting for me is that I feel exactly the same way as I did then. I’ve done Bloom, which I was really pleased with, and the funding pitch trailer (not so pleased about), and been on the cruise  (which was amazing). I’ve also just got my hands on the footage from Serial Kaller and, while I am pleased with some of it,  I am pretty disappointed with my performance over all – I could have done better.  I’ve also finally had the footage back from the corporate short I did a while back, and wasn’t that pleased with that either. My showreel is finally done and – maybe you’ve anticipated this – I don’t really think it’s good enough. Or maybe it is, I dunno. The truth of the matter is,  I am having a massive crisis of confidence, and for the first time I am questioning whether I am good enough to make it.

Admittedly, and trying to keep things in perspective, I think I got fairly shafted by some shots/angles in some of my best scenes from SK, and the corporate film got butchered by the client and ended up a bit of a mess.  I am not being ‘all about me’ or trying to pass the buck for a below-par performance; I think that there’s an important lesson to be learned here – being a diva isn’t necessarily a negative thing. If you think a scene can be improved by suggesting something, but you happen to be in it and so you don’t say anything for fear that you’ll be branded a twatty actor, well that’s just counter-productive.  Certainly I felt on the shoot that there were a few occasions where I questioned to myself why a close-up wasn’t being done, or why we weren’t shooting from an alternative angle, but I didn’t say anything. I know largely this was to do with time constraints, but if I had insisted, my performance would have translated better onto screen, and the movie would have been better. That’s not being a diva. That’s being a good performer. I need to bear this in mind in future. I think, so far, I have been a little too much of a nice guy on set. That’s not to suggest that I am going to start acting like a dick for the sake of it, of course not. But maybe a little more assertive and more focussed – I am there to do a job, and not make friends, after all.

So anyway, back to my little bleat about not being good enough. My personal life is a bit of a mess at the moment too, and my foundations have been rocked a little – well, quite alot actually. I have recently lost someone that I was close to, and there’s more going on which I won’t divulge, but I feeling pretty beaten and bewildered at the moment anyway, so maybe now is not the time for piling more pressure on myself.  But as it stands, I feel at a bit of a crossroads. At the moment, I just want a quiet life and am not sure I am on the right path any more.

Time will tell, I suppose


Serial Kaller wraps, plus pics

IMG_0576

Yesterday I wrapped on Serial Kaller, my first movie (complete with my first IMDB credit, yay). Set in and around a babe TV station, it’s a slasher-horror funded by Loaded, and was my first film experience with a full crew. I had a great experience on it, met some amazing people and I think that I acquitted myself quite well – people seemed to enjoy my performance, which is great, and I will look forward to seeing the finished product. My character, Lee, is officially The Angriest Man in the World™, and so is a little one-note – he’s pretty much one more shout away from giving himself a heart attack, but I hope I managed to give him a bit more colour than that. Still, I did feel that he was a bit too close to being just an angry version of me at times, and I want to make sure on my next gig that I get a bit more of a transformation across, but generally I am pleased. Of course, there are some scenes that I would redo given the chance, but whatever you do there always will be, and I don’t think I have embarrassed myself. We’ll see!

I’ll come back to Serial Kaller as it develops, but in the meantime, here are some pics from the set.

 


School Daze

Like a lot of people, I was bullied at school. I grew up in an affluent area, but my parents, who worked hard and absolutely did their best to provide for me and my Sister, did not earn much money. Although we lived in a reasonably large house on an expensive street, my Mum had inherited the place from her parents and my folks simply couldn’t afford to maintain it, and it slid ever further into disrepair, and frankly looked shit. My clothes were mainly presents from well-meaning but horribly unfashionable neighbours or relatives, or second hand, and ok, to be fair I was incredibly uncool as a kid anyway (hard to believe, right…..Right?), and so, I was bullied. For a period of about a year I guess, once the cool kids who were formerly my friends had caught onto all this, I was ridiculed, belittled, and other similarly-themed words, and in the end cast out entirely –  for a while, I had no friends at all, and this led me to team up with another outcast or two, and my path to alternativism (I just made that up, thanks spell check for pointing this out) was inexorably set. I grew my hair, got into AC/DC (and yes, alright….Iron Maiden), and generally embraced my outcast status. Of course, this did nothing to ingratiate me with cool kids – in fact, it made things worse – but by that point I didn’t care and acted even more weirdly, revelling in my freak status. I had found a niche, and my crew, and that’s pretty much how things stayed for a couple of years. In due course, I found new friends (who are still – officially – BFFF), that were unfortunately friends with the cool kids that had formerly ostracised me, and so I attempted again to ingratiate myself with the ‘trendy’* world, but this was doomed to awkward – sometimes embarrassing, sometimes painful –  failure. I wasn’t part of that world, I never had been and I couldn’t communicate with those sort of people.

This was all a very long time ago now, of course, and I have gradually got cooler (at least in comparison), am blessed in that I generally am well liked, have no trouble making friends, and can generally get on with and communicate with people from all walks of life (even if I am just pretending). In fact, I have never been happier.

So why I boring you with all this shit?

Currently, I am working on my first ‘proper’ movie, a slasher-horror romp called Serial Kaller. I say proper because I have had tiny parts in a couple of other things, but this is the first film that I have done that has a budget, location, full crew and experienced, professional Actors. I got the role through a friend that works at the studio, and although I was and am really grateful about this, I confess that I had mixed feelings about the project to start with. I didn’t have to audition, which made me wonder about the standard, for one. Two, the movie is backed by a lads mag and is set in a Babe TV station, and features a lot of ladies wearing not very much, and this concerned me too –  I have noticed recently that in my old age I am turning into a bit of a feminist, and definitely am not (and probably never was) a ‘lad’, and all that T&A bothers me more than anything. I had researched the cast before filming and they are all, as you can imagine, beautiful people (if that’s your thing – no judgment here, just everyone’s different), but I gratefully took the job as the script is good, it was a great chance to get involved in a movie, and it paid, and let’s be honest, that makes all kinds of misgivings go away. But still, even once I had put these other concerns behind me, I had feelings of strong anxiety about doing it; in the lead-up to filming I was really bothered by something, and it took me a while to figure out where these feelings of trepidation were coming from. When I figured it out, I was as surprised as anyone. I was anxious, and nervous, and unsure of myself because of my experiences at school.

All of a sudden, I felt like I was 13 again, the kid that didn’t really fit, seemingly heading back into the world of the fashionable and popular; the world that I was booted out of for not being cool enough, or having the right clothes, or whatever. That seems really melodramatic, but it was a very tangible feeling and so, when I turned up on set the first day I was feeling nervous, shy and awkward, and radiating intensity (which was mostly performance nerves and me getting into character, but not all of it.) Of course, I needn’t have worried  – everyone was really nice, are really professional and I’ve met some really cool people, and am excited and proud to be a part of the project.  But all that unnecessary anxiety has made me realise just how much your experiences as a young teenager shape you, and how deep-rooted that stuff goes, and how damaging bullying is – that shit sticks, man, and for a very long time. I know that we were all kids and when you are young you have a far lesser appreciation of the consequences of your actions, but it concerns me that if I can have such a vivid flashback, a quarter of a century later, (and my experience, on the whole, was not that bad), then it must be far more difficult to be a kid these days, with smartphones and social media to instantly spread the word on the latest outcast. At least when I was being kicked around, once I was out of school that was pretty much it – I could forget all about it and lose myself in something else. Now, you can be trashed on Facebook (or whatever) 24/7.

That’s got to be pretty tough.

http://www.beatbullying.org


Name Change

driving

So, I started this little diary in drama school, and it seemed only fitting at that point to call my blog ‘A Trainee Actor’s Journal’. Since graduating, I’ve considered changing this often, but kept it ‘as is’ up until this point because, in what I now realise was a puerile and utterly pointless act of self-deprecation, I wanted to show the world how wonderfully humble I am, and because, of course darling, we’re always training, aren’t we. We’re always learning, it’s a journey, and oh you were simply marvelous in that thing, I don’t know where you get it from and….

Fuck that. I am an Actor. There’s always stuff to learn, yes. But I am a trainee no more.


Failures, TV and George Clooney

"You interrupted my Nespresso for this schmuck?"

“You interrupted my Nespresso for this schmuck?”

So once again it’s been a while since my last update, and it’s fair to say there has been alot happening….so much so it’s difficult to know where to start. My gig for the puppetry company went really well, and there will be more work with them in the coming months (not forgetting the cruise, of course), and my ‘day’ work continues to go well – I have been working hard and tomorrow I have my personal alcohol licence exam, which is a massive step towards the higher echelons of management (which reminds me, I should probably study….) So, things are going well on the home front. My TV debut has come and gone, which I was absolutely delighted with. I had no idea how it was going to turn out, and didn’t get to watch it until everyone else did, and it went very well – I was really pleased with how my little moment turned out, and I got alot of nice feedback. It’s still available online too – you can click here if you are interested (and you may want to skip to the last two minutes to see yours truly). After this, well, it all went a bit quiet and I was starting to wonder where the next job was coming from. It wasn’t long after this that I got a call from George Clooney.

Ok, I didn’t actually get a call from George Clooney, but I did from his Casting Director, through my agent (more on this in a minute), asking me to audition for a speaking role in the upcoming movie The Monuments Men,starring the aforementioned George (who is directing),  Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray and John Goodman. It’s fair to say that when I found out about the audition I had a bit of a seizure. Not a serious one of course, but a seizure none-the-less. So I went to the audition (which actually turned out to be with the CD’s 7th Assistant Assistant), did my bit, went home, and tried to forget all about it. Which of course, I failed miserably at. I did try not to think about it. I don’t know if your mind can influence the outcome of these things, that maybe if you think about something, then that thing will be either less or more likely to happen. But it was impossible not to daydream, I didn’t get the call, and tried to comfort myself that it was amazing that I had had an audition at that level, and that I should be satisfied with that. Of course, the only problem with that is that it’s all complete bullshit.

I was gutted. I’ve looked back and analysed it (which of course you are not supposed to do, otherwise you drive yourself mad), and came to the conclusion that my American accent probably wasn’t strong enough. Next time I get something like this come along (and there will be a next time), I will call an accent coach first, which may not make a difference, but you can only do something about the things that you can control. The problem with all this is that my agent very nearly completely fucked it up. When she got notification of the audition, she emailed me. I was having some problems receiving her emails at the time, and didn’t get it. So she emailed me again. ON THE DAY OF THE AUDITION. I almost missed it. Why on earth didn’t she call me? I am having trouble figuring this out. Normally I would consider this grounds for dismissal (and still might), but….she did get the audition in the first place. Tricky. I think I am going to have to review our relationship though. From the highs of Hollywood, to the lows of getting rejected for a student film being made by a second year at the London Film School. That was pretty harsh. I almost got it, but I didn’t, and was feeling pretty low after that – not being able to land an unpaid student gig felt a bit galling at the time, but the level is pretty irrelevant and it’s silly to think like that – someone else was just more suitable . Since then though, it’s all gone a bit crazy. Tomorrow I am doing a corporate short, which I got through Casting Call Pro, and they approached me, which is pretty cool. I auditioned last week and when I hadn’t heard anything 4-5 days later I wrote it off – and then got told that I had got it (Does this mean if you DON’T think about something it’s more likely to happen?). So I have been cramming lines tonight and have to head there straight after my exam in the morning. But, small bit of work or not, it’s the first gig I have got from a completely unrelated source, and the first gig I have got through an audition, which after a few rejections was just what I needed. The second bit of work that I’ve got coming up starts shooting next week, and I am not going to go into it at this point, except to say that it’s my first paid movie job (that’s paying three times as much as the BBC I might add), an interesting script, a decent-sized role and interesting character. And that’s all I am saying for now!

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Oh and look – here’s a picture of me on TV!

 


Man vs London, Pt 2

Not that there was technically a Man vs London part one, but I liked the sound of it.

So – whisper it softly – but things are starting to pick up now, and that is very good news. After the disaster of last month, this week so far has been great. First of all, I have finally been able to get my own place, which is a massive step forward. Well, I say my own place, it’s a room in the house that I am already (secretly) living in*, but now it’s official and most importantly, I will have my own little section of it to call my own. It’s a small room and expensive for what it is, but it’s incredibly convenient, I get to stay with my lady, and there’s no deposit, which for someone in my financial position is amazing. So I move in (or down a floor, technically) on the 11th March. This will have a massive effect on my general well-being – I have been sneaking around in this place now like Casper the frickin’ ghost for months. So, stable living area – check.

Financially things seem to be picking up too. My ‘day job’ is going well, and my promotion is rattling along which is great, but also makes me uneasy. It’s the old familiar balancing act – you need money to live, but you can’t get sucked into a job that dominates you too much that you have no time to push the business side of being an actor, and no creative juice left for it if something comes along. One thing that I realised soon after starting my bar job is that my plan B is to run my own pub one day, and this is something that I think I would be happy doing, so that things are moving very rapidly in that direction is great, but….I moved to London to be an Actor, not to run a pub. I need to stay the course here and not get distracted too much.

As well as the day job, I have recently become involved with a puppetry company and am delighted that I will be doing some work for them, starting on Friday when I will be making my debut as Pongo, who is a….giant, red inter-dimensional chicken.  Ok, not exactly the RSC, and I have made some jokes along the lines of ‘Is this what 7 grand and two years at drama school gets me?’, but in all honesty, it’s great and I am really pleased – think Jim Henson, think Labyrinth,  and you’re along the right lines. The best part though….well. This week it has been confirmed that I will be working for them on a cruise from Istanbul to Venice in July. I’ll be working, obviously, but I am basically getting paid to go on a cruise. With my girlfriend. That’s pretty spectacular I have to say. I actually have the chance to go on another one, but this falls over a festival in the Summer that I love and would be pretty loathe to miss….although now I have written this, missing out on being paid to go on a cruise across the Mediterranean, with my lady, to stand in a (possibly wet) field in Derbyshire….hmmm.

So, I have somewhere to live, am doing something creative and I have some money coming in. Now for some actual fucking acting please. It’s been a while and I am getting tetchy about this. There are a couple of short films coming up that I will be making an appearance in but I really need something to get my teeth into now. Maybe it’s time to head back into the theatre….we’ll see.

*This reminds me of this